OUR MARAWI: (5) Building a better and stronger Marawi City from the ashes of war

Last of five parts: Governance Reforms and Peacebuilding
11 Nov 2017

V. Governance Reforms

The extreme urgency, complexity and enormity of the needs emanating   from the current emergency in Marawi City warrant a strong governance or management system to deal with the herculean tasks of pacifying the affected families and residents, alleviating the socioeconomic sufferings, reconstructing damaged buildings and structures and building new ones to replace totally ruined old ones, and constructing new facilities for the long-term development of Marawi City and Lanao del Sur. To address that need, the following interventions are recommended:

A.) Establish a synergistic multisector collaborative governance system that assures the effective linking and sharing of resources, capabilities, activities, and services of all involved government agencies (local, regional and national), private/business firms, donor or partner agencies, civil society organizations, and the citizens to produce or deliver services, values or benefits aimed at building a better and stronger Marawi City from the ashes of war. This entails the imposition of a command and control system on the existing loose collaborative networks of such varied groups or entities during the last five months of fighting between the government and the terrorist groups. It should be stressed that despite their lack of preparation for such unexpected tragic siege, the Local Government Units (LGUs), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), and the national and regional agencies, business/private groups, the religious leaders, traditional leaders, and various civil society organizations demonstrated a level of collaborative relationship in response to the crisis, as indicated by the laudable activities of the various committees and task forces. The multisector collaboration that we saw during the five-month siege should be strengthened to make them more inclusive, cohesive and synergistic, and thereby effectively address the complex and daunting challenges associated with the rehabilitation, reconstruction, and recovery efforts.

B.) To ensure responsiveness and cultural compatibility of component programs, projects and activities, the active participation of all concerned local sectoral groups or stakeholders, ulama, sultans and traditional leaders, businessmen, civic and professional leaders, women, youth, Civil Society Organizations/Non-governmental organizations (CSOs/NGOs), etc. must be enlisted in policy making, damage appraisal, needs assessment, program planning, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation. The various program components or interventions should not be imposed on the local stakeholders or beneficiary groups but should encourage the stakeholders to actively participate in ensuring their ownership of the various program components or interventions.

C.) Provide strong, competent, clean, and accountable governance for the various components of the proposed development package for Marawi by all organizations, entities and stakeholders involved in the multiple service delivery mechanism. This is important in showing the generous face of the government to the M’ranaws and the Bangsamoro who, for the past several decades, have been seeing largely its ugly or harsh side, represented by military pacification campaigns or law enforcement operations. And the same quality of governance must be demonstrated by LGUs and other frontline government instrumentalities in performing their regular functions and activities.

D.) The strong support of the AFP and PNP is indispensable to the success of the proposed rehabilitation, reconstruction and development plan for Marawi. Their strong support is needed to address the expected serious security concerns or vulnerabilities. Although there were some negative reports involving some AFP troops or units during the war, which, I think were isolated cases, the general impression is that the AFP and PNP conducted the military operation and other related non-military activities professionally, thereby making the present Martial Law in Mindanao a benign one, compared to the ruthless Martial Law of the Marcos regime.

E.) There is a need for aggressive resource generation or fund-sourcing initiatives. The current extreme urgency, complexity, and enormity of problems and needs stemming from the Marawi crisis entail providing services/benefits from as many sources and entities as possible to as many affected residents and families as possible and lightening the burden of the government in addressing the said problems and needs. In light of this, all actual and potential sources of support from all sectors within the country and abroad must be tapped or mobilized.

F.) Provide strong monitoring of all fund-sourcing and fund utilization efforts. This entails the adoption of appropriate transparency and accountability mechanisms. The active participation of local stakeholders (aside from the LGUs) is also important. Moreover, the involvement of foreign donor or partner entities is vital not only in ensuring efficiency but also in enhancing the credibility of program implementation and leadership.

VI – Peacebuilding

         The provision of strong, competent, clean and accountable governance by LGUs and other government agencies in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur and in the other provinces of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) is one important peacebuilding intervention. Efficient and responsive services by the various government agencies in the region will project an image of a caring and generous government, which serves as an effective shield against violent extremism and radicalism.

In addition to the above intervention, the following measures are recommended:

A.) Multisectoral community engagement of suspected terrorists and their sympathizers by local government officials, secular and Islamic religious schools, Muslim and Christian religious organizations, sultans and other traditional leaders, and civil society organizations as community support groups for moderation and peacebuilding. These community groups should develop and implement programs and activities (e.g., seminars, conferences, training, discussion groups, other related social events) to promote religious moderation, intercultural understanding, inter-faith relations, and a culture of peace. These groups may individually or collectively initiate constructive interactions or conciliatory reaching-out moves to win the terrorists and their sympathizers. This is killing the extremist ideology through a caring community.

B.) Secular and religious tertiary education institutions should actively promote and institutionalize the deconflictualized and free discussion of controversial issues (e.g., religious extremism, radicalism, federalism, etc.) which should be done regularly. Mindanao State University-Marawi should spearhead efforts along this line by serving as the dialogue center, in-charge of conceptualizing and coordinating the implementation of programs and activities that provide moderating or soothing peacebuilding openings for fundamentalist or extremist views.

C.) The Marawi siege conveys one clear message: it is a part of a bigger problem—the contemporary Moro armed struggle. Many of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf fighters who attacked Marawi City were former members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and Moro National Liberation Front who were disillusioned with what they saw as a slow or dismal progress in the implementation of signed peace agreements. To prevent its repetition in Marawi and Lanao del Sur, or its replication in other cities and provinces in the country, or to shield the Philippines from the threats of violent extremism and radicalism, the long-stalled peace process for the Bangsamoro must be concluded as soon as possible. The Philippine government has to find a creative approach to implement fully its peace agreements with the MILF and MNLF. The proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law and federalism options are not contradictory alternative political solutions. Both options can be ingeniously linked complementarily to form an inclusive and progressive peace package for the Bangsamoro.

(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Dr. Macapado Muslim, University Professor and former president of the Mindanao State University, submitted this policy paper to President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on November 6, 2017. The author says this is a product of a long-running analysis of the Moro armed struggle in Mindanao and an offshoot of the book The Moro Armed Struggle in the Philippines: The Nonviolent Autonomy Alternativ
The author obtained his Ph.D. and M.A. in Political Science degrees from the University of Hawaii where he wrote a dissertation on the Moro armed struggle. He specializes on governance and peacebuilding in multiethnic countries)